A guide to the top Tenerife attractions, including sites in North and South Tenerife
Would you like to take a vacation where there’s year-round sunshine, ethereal lunar landscapes, and unique black sand beaches?
How about ancient towns and villages, vibrant party towns, incredible cuisine, areas of great ecological significance, and countless activities?
Then Tenerife is the holiday destination for you – there are so many things to do in Tenerife that whatever your tastes, this beautiful island has something for you.
If you are planning to visit Tenerife, you won’t be short on the best Tenerife things to do!
From lazing on the beach, partying all night, exploring the great outdoors to taking in some culture, you’re covered!
Tenerife is a truly unique destination.
Although the island is part of Spain, it is actually located off the west coast of Africa, a two-and-a-half-hour flight from the south of Spain.
This makes it very different from the Spanish mainland, particularly in its geological make-up.
In this article, I’ll explore some of the great places to visit in Tenerife and take a closer look at many of the unique Tenerife attractions and lots of the fantastic Tenerife activities there are for you to engage in.
This fascinating island is so diverse that you could engage in different activities every day.
So, if you want to know what to do in Tenerife, then read on!
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1. Hike Mount Teide
Mount Teide trips are top of many people’s agendas when looking for things to do in Tenerife.
The Mount Teide hike is among the most challenging hikes in Tenerife and should only be attempted if you’re fit.
Plan ahead, as if you want to summit Mount Teide, you will need a permit.
The beautiful Teide National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s easy to see why.
Should you summit the mountain on a clear day, you will be able to see its shadow casting out miles over the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Visit Cave of the Winds
With proximity to the towns of Garachico and Icod de Los Vino, the Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Winds) is a Tenerife must-see.
At over 10 miles long, the cave is Europe’s largest volcanic tube.
The cave consists of a type of cavity that forms inside lava flows.
There’s a visitor center at the entrance to the cave from which you can take a two-hour tour of the cave (it’s best to book in advance).
The extraordinary characteristics of the caves make this one of the most fascinating things to see in Tenerife. Don’t miss out!
3. Hike Masca Valley
One of the most storied activities in Tenerife is the famous Masca Valley hike.
While there are several hiking trails in the valley, the Masca Gorge Trail is one of the best hikes in Tenerife.
This sensational trail is 3 miles one way and takes in some rocky terrain and slippery stretches.
The Masca Valley hiking trails can be challenging so don’t attempt them if this may be an issue for you.
If you are considering doing the Masca hike or any of the other Masca hiking trails, make sure to wear hiking footwear, otherwise, you may be refused access to the gorge.
4. Hike Barranco del Infierno
If you like an active vacation and are looking for things to do in Costa Adeje, then lace up your boots and head to one of the best places to go in Tenerife for hiking.
The Barranco del Infierno is a protected natural area with scenery that makes this among the top things to do in Tenerife.
The Barranco del Infierno is a ravine just outside the town of Adeje and the hiking trail through it is known as one of the most challenging Tenerife hikes you could possibly encounter.
Be aware though that access to the ravine is controlled by a limitation on the number of daily visitors.
5. Explore the Island’s Capital
Santa Cruz de Tenerife (usually referred to locally as simply Santa Cruz) is the island’s capital and cultural center.
With a beautiful old town, stunning beaches, and modern architecture, there are so many things to do in Santa Cruz that it is one of the best places to visit in Tenerife.
Each year Santa Cruz hosts a UNESCO-listed carnival; a magical experience and one of the best things to do in Tenerife.
For the rest of the year, you’ll find this port city to have amazing restaurants and cosmopolitan nightlife; great for those who like to be close to the action.
6. Relax in a Spa Hotel
If you’re looking for relaxing things to do in Tenerife, then why not stay in a spa hotel?
The hotel’s huge Nammu Areas Spa is one of the best places in Tenerife to unwind.
Try out their incredible ‘Canarian Circuit’, a thermal circuit that is located inside a volcanic cave.
They also have an amazing gym offering Pilates, dynamic yoga, body-forming, etc.
7. Spend a day on a Black Sand Beach
Tenerife’s famous black sand beaches offer a unique experience for beach-lovers.
Spend a day at the stunning Playa El Bollullo (Bullullo Beach), located in the north of the island, close to Puerto de la Cruz and surrounded by stunning scenery.
Nestled in a secluded cove, this beautiful volcanic sand beach is known mainly to locals, with very few tourists ever venturing here.
There’s a great Chiringuito right on the beach too.
So if you’re in northern Tenerife, places to visit don’t get any better than this.
8. Explore Historic La Orotava
Just a stone’s throw from Puerto de la Cruz you’ll find the beautiful historic town of La Orotava.
Established after the Spanish conquest of the early 16th Century, La Orotava has sensational architecture and hosts the annual (and very colorful) Corpus Christi fiesta.
Set in a beautiful valley in the north of the island, the town is considered as the gateway to Teide National Park.
La Orotava makes a superb place in which to base yourself for exploring the park and its many wonderful hiking trails.
9. Hit the Beach
There are so many great beaches in Tenerife that you are simply spoilt for choice.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that many beaches have strong currents.
Therefore, one of the top things to do in Tenerife for those with children is to spend some time on the Playa de Las Teresitas.
The Playa de Las Teresitas is a man-made, white-sand beach located near Santa Cruz.
This large beach has a breakwater a few meters from the shore, protecting it from the sea and making it one of the best Tenerife places to go swimming with kids.
10. Go Outdoors Around Los Gigantes
Los Gigantes is a small resort town on the west coast that provides a great base for fun outdoor activities in Tenerife.
The town is surrounded by some of the best walks in Tenerife, with trails to suit all ability levels.
One of the best things to do in Los Gigantes is to take the eight-mile loop towards Santiago de Teide before heading up the rocky paths to the summit.
You’ll walk through tunnels and along cliff tops. The views are spectacular but this is one of the most challenging hikes in Tenerife.
11. Stay in Costa Adeje
Located in the southwest of the island, there are lots of wonderful things to do in Costa Adeje.
As quite possibly the most varied part of Tenerife, Costa Adeje is a fantastic place to base yourself as you’ll find all the very best the island has to offer within easy reach.
Featuring the obligatory beautiful beaches and sensational Barranco del Infierno (see above), Costa Adeje offers a bit of everything.
From stunning natural environments to popular theme parks, you’ll find something to suit your needs!
12. Spend Christmas in Tenerife
As it is located off the coast of West Africa, Tenerife has the warmest weather in Europe and year-round sunshine.
This makes spending Christmas in Tenerife a fantastic option for those wishing to escape the harsh winter climates.
As it is a year-round destination, you’ll find most of the attractions in Tenerife open over the festive period.
You’ll even find the Christmas markets that are more associated with northern Europe here, where you can buy local wines, food, and unique Christmas gifts.
13. Go to a Waterpark
The park was opened by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, hence the Siamese theme.
The selection of attractions in the park is marvelous.
You’ll discover everything from relaxing palm-fringed pools to water slides suitable for all the family to out-and-out adrenaline-pumping thrill rides, some of which are purely frightening!
Definitely make time to attempt the Singha, a water roller-coaster!
Visit the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín
The Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín is an architectural wonder located at the harbor in Santa Cruz.
The venue features an 1800-seat auditorium plus a 400-seat chamber music hall and is home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, regarded as one of the best orchestras in Spain.
While the venue is host to a variety of performances spanning music, opera, performing arts, and dance, the sensational architecture of this building has made it a symbol of Santa Cruz.
Even if you’re not taking in a performance, it is well worth a visit.
15. Take in Some Culture
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital city of Tenerife and alongside Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, the capital of the whole Canary Islands.
As such, you’ll discover many interesting things to see and do here.
While in the past Santa Cruz had gained a reputation as a party town, there’s so much more to it.
You’ll find museums, art galleries, and the excellent Tenerife Symphony Orchestra here, making this a great place to explore all of the many great things to do in North Tenerife.
16. Visit Teide National Park
Teide National Park is an absolute must-see for all visiting Tenerife.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has so much to explore that you’ll find it one of the best things to do in Tenerife.
You can even take a thrilling 8-minute cable car ride up to the top of Mount Teide.
While you can hike to the top of Mount Teide (if you have sought a permit in advance), some of the best hiking trails in Tenerife are to be found around the lower slopes of the mountain.
The trails here are well-marked out and you’ll find ones suited to every ability level.
17. Party in Playa de las Américas
Sick of culture? Tired of nature? Bored of beaches? Then head for the concrete jungle of Playa de las Américas!
The epicenter of mass-tourism overkill on the island, you’ll either love or hate the place.
But if you’re looking to party, this is undoubtedly the best place to go in Tenerife.
You’ll find the majority of the nightlife on and around Avenida Rafael Puig Lluvina, with numerous bars and clubs that run into the early hours.
So if you’re looking for raucous things to do in South Tenerife, then head straight down there.
It’s certainly not for the fainthearted!
18. Explore Teno Rural Park
If you love the great outdoors, then in Tenerife, things to do are plentiful.
Teno Rural Park is packed with some of the best things to do in Tenerife, including the magnificent Masca Gorge Trail (see above) and the fascinating Cuevas Negras (Black Caves).
Teno Rural Park is an excellent choice for those who love to get away from it all.
This mountainous area features magnificent hiking trails, fascinating towns and villages, unique biodiversity, and local customs that have thrived away from the more touristy areas.
19. Visit Garachico or Icod de Los Vinos
The beautiful towns of Garachico and Icod de Los Vinos make fantastic bases from which to explore Tenerife.
While the towns attract large numbers of tourists during the day, nights here remain steadfastly tranquil once the hordes have cleared.
In the coastal town of Garachico, you can still see traces of the volcanic eruption in 1706.
Slightly inland lies the larger Icod de Los Vino where you’ll find the famous thousand-year-old dragon tree.
The towns are close to both the Chinyero Volcano and Cave of the Winds.
20. Visit MUNA: Museum of Nature and Archaeology
Located in the old town of Santa Cruz, the fantastic MUNA (Museum of Nature and Archaeology) is one of the best places to go in Tenerife.
The museum provides a fascinating look at the natural and archaeological heritage of not just Tenerife, but the broader Canary Islands.
The museum is open daily and features permanent and rotational collections.
Make sure to see the extensive collection of mummies; kids will love it!
21. Go to the Carnival
The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is perfect for the party-lovers among you.
This wild month-long (seriously!) carnival brings the capital of Tenerife to a standstill during the peak week of festivities when local businesses close down so people can concentrate on partying.
The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is claimed to be the second most important and popular carnival after the massive Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
The carnival culminates with the ‘the burial of the sardine’ ceremony (honestly!).
As you might imagine, this is a very lighthearted, but fantastically fun affair.
22. Go Go-karting
If you’re seeking exciting things to do, Tenerife has one of my favorite activities: go-karting!
If you are staying in South Tenerife then Karting Club Tenerife offers a free bus to collect you directly from your hotel and take you to their thrilling race tracks.
You’ll find options for all ages from 6 upwards.
Not only will you find both a senior and junior track, but a selection of go-karts (120 c.c. to 400 c.c.) to cover all levels from children to beginners to out-and-out experts.
Races take around 12 minutes so this will give you a quick spike of adrenaline that won’t keep you off the beach long.
23. Visit the Cuevas Negras (Black Caves)
In the stunning mountains of Teno Rural Park lie the incredible Cuevas Negras (Black Caves).
The caves are located in quite an isolated part of the island and the most rewarding way of reaching them is by hiking from Los Silos to Erjos (or vice versa from Eros is all downhill!).
To get the most out of your visit, it’s worth learning a little about the fascinating history of the caves before you depart.
For example, the Guanches, Tenerife’s Indigenous people, have inhabited the Cuevas Negras at various points in the island’s history.
24. Take a Kayaking and Snorkeling Trip
With year-round warm waters, Tenerife is a great location from which to take a kayaking and snorkeling trip.
You’ll be able to see dolphins in their natural environment and snorkel alongside bull rays and turtles in a bay accessible only by kayak.
A non-intrusive, eco-friendly trip is an excellent way to swerve the zoo and see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
It’s possible to see up to 5 different species of dolphin on these trips!
Due to insurance purposes, most companies set the minimum age for these trips at 14.
25. Go Mountain Biking
The active among you can take a mountain biking adventure with Xplore Tenerife.
This trip departs from the company’s shop in Los Cristianos, from where you will be driven 2000 meters up the mountains by van to the starting point.
And it’s all downhill from there – literally!
This adventure will send you hurtling down the mountainside along fast trails, though there are some more technical single trails.
Along the way, you’ll career through beautiful wild pine forests and stunning villages before descending all the way back down to the starting point at sea level.
26. Take a Jet Ski Excursion
If you’re looking for an adrenaline spike, take to the ocean on a jet ski!
There are one or two-hour jet ski safaris that allow you to take in the natural beauty of the island while indulging in some high-octane thrills as you bounce along the ocean waves at high speed.
The excursions depart from the port area and will take in iconic locations along the coast.
These include the Yellow Mountain, the bay of Costa del Silencio, Las Galletas, the lighthouse of Punta Rasca, the Red Mountain, El Medano, Pelada Mountain, and more!
27. Go on a Quad Bike Adventure
There are plenty of fantastic quad bike adventures into the heart of Teide National Park.
These half-day tours will take you right through the core of the sensational park, passing through the park’s famed landscapes, fascinating towns and villages, and beautiful forests.
You’ll ascends through the national park around all the major sites and towards the Mirador de Boca Tauce.
You’ll pause at this stunning viewpoint to take in the sensational views and get some photos.
The route is partly along an asphalt track and part along dirt roads.
28. Take a Tandem Paragliding Flight in South Tenerife
For the brave among you, try out tandem paragliding in South Tenerife!
If you wish to take to the skies then the launching points for these excursions are either Taucho (2600 feet) or Ifonche (3280 feet), depending on weather conditions on the day.
You’ll be accompanied on your flight by a fully qualified and highly experienced instructor/pilot who will guide you through the thermals.
This is a fantastic way to get a completely different perspective of the island.
You can even try this if you’re a beginner (and brave!).
29. Go on a Buggy Safari
Buggy Safari Tenerife provides great fun buggy safaris that depart from their beautiful farm in Vilaflor, the highest village in Tenerife.
From there, the thrill-packed ride will take you through the magnificent lunar landscapes and stunning views of Teide National Park.
The buggies are the super zippy Arctic Cat 700cc model.
You’ll travel both by road and an adrenaline-inducing dirt track through the forest.
The tour ends back at the farm where you’ll be offered homemade local cheese and wine.
They also provide free pick-ups from your hotel.
30. See Los Roques de García
In Tenerife, things to see are around every corner and you’ll often be amazed what you find.
However, few are quite as spectacular as the famous Roques de García (García Rocks), a must not miss for anyone visiting the island.
The best way to see the rocks is by taking the easy 2-mile loop trail through the area.
One of the most recognized Tenerife tourist attractions, the rocks here are so famous they have names!
El Roque Cinchado is considered emblematic in Tenerife. Other noted rocks you’ll encounter include El Torrotito, El Burro, and the sensational Los Roques Blancos.
Final words on things to do in Tenerife
Tenerife is unlike any other place in Europe!
With its location just off the coast of West Africa, the island has a unique array of flora and fauna, areas of great ecological significance, and a culture that has grown almost paradoxically as a part of, and apart from, Europe.
The Guanches, Tenerife’s indigenous people, have a heritage that has integrated with Spanish culture, while at the same time allowing for many traditions to be passed down through the generations.
For those seeking to immerse themselves in the local culture then try and time your trip to coincide with the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival.
Here you’ll witness many of the existing traditions of Guanche culture being acted out!
The incredible Cuevas Negras (Black Caves) are also worth exploring for their fascinating history as the Guanches have inhabited the caves at various points in the island’s history.
And don’t miss the magnificent MUNA (Museum of Nature and Archaeology) in Santa Cruz.
In the past, Tenerife was synonymous with the ills of over-tourism (even though this was confined mainly to a relatively small part of the island), but in recent years Tenerife has become a hotbed for ecotourism.
With the island’s stunning geography and unique flora and fauna, it’s easy to see why.
While not all of the things to do in Tenerife listed in this article are eco-friendly (go-karting for example!), you’ll find most of the items detailed are sustainable activities.
Mount Teide trips, the Cave of the Winds, Barranco del Infierno, and the Masca Valley hike are among the many examples of eco-friendly activities in Tenerife that you can indulge in and not be left with a guilty conscience.
The thing to note about Tenerife is the diversity of options on the island.
From exploring the beautiful historic towns of La Orotava, Garachico, and Icod de Los Vino to all the magnificent things to do in Santa Cruz, the cultural capital.
You definitely won’t be short of places to visit in Tenerife.
Whether you want to indulge in all the great activities in Tenerife, have a hedonistic vacation partying the nights away, or soak in the island’s rich culture, there is a lot on offer for you.
Tenerife is also a fantastic option for those on a budget as despite being part of Spain, the island enjoys VAT-free status, making it a very reasonable destination to visit.
You’ll be able to ponder on that one while having a cheap cocktail on one of the many fine beaches in Tenerife!
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
Short FAQ About the Best Things to do in Tenerife
What is Tenerife most known for?
Tenerife is known for its amazing sunny beaches, unique landscapes, and incredible mountains, and for its wild party life (although this is just a small part of the island).
What are the top attractions to visit in Tenerife?
Teide National Park is an absolute Tenerife must-see when you visit! Even if you don’t want to hike Mount Teide, enjoy the park and admire the mountain from a distance. Additionally, the beaches, Siam Park, the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Los Gigantes are a few more of the best places to go in Tenerife.
What are the most popular things to do in Tenerife with children?
Siam Park, the beaches (especially Playa de Las Teresitas), the MUNA (Museum of Nature and Archaeology) in Santa Cruz, and Teide National Park are perfect for families.